Growing Apricot Trees In Arizona

Growing Apricot Trees In Arizona

If you love apricots and gardening then you should have an apricot tree in your garden. Growing Apricot trees in Arizona differs from other places in the country. It is hotter and more dry in Arizona, especially in the South. While Apricot trees do prefer the cooler temperatures of the north, we can still get them to grow well in the south.

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Apricot Tree Propagation
Apricot Tree Propagation Arizona

All Apricot trees are grown from the stone in the fruit, which is the seed. It takes 3 or 4 years for the stone to develop into a fruit bearing tree. This is why most gardeners choose to buy their apricot trees from a local nursery. These trees can be transplanted into your backyard and start producing fruit a whole lot faster than starting with a seed. The trees nurseries stock are usually already a couple of years old. This cuts out a lot of the wait time for you’re to get fruit from your new tree. That being said it will still be a couple years before you can expect fruit from your apricot tree.

Planting Apricot Trees
Planting Apricot Trees

While most places in the country recommend full sun for the apricot tree, Arizona gets more sun than most. This means that partial shade is not a bad idea for your tree. Choose a location that isn’t too close to the house or power lines that gets good sun.

Get your shovel and dig a deep hole in your chosen location. Make it deep enough to place some decomposed compost, if you have some. Blend the compost with your regular garden soil. If you bought a tree in a peat pot you don’t have to take it out, but you can slit the sides. This will make it easier for the roots to get out and for the tree to get established. If your apricot tree came in a burlap bag take the bag off and gently spread the roots in the hole you dug.

Replace the dirt that you dug out so that the tree is covered to the same depth it was when it was sold. You want to test how deep the hole you dug will be with the compost so when you place your tree in the hole that you have the mark where the bag or soil was in the peat pot is at the same level with the garden soil. Once the tree is at the right level and the soil is back make sure to give the soil a good soak with your hose.

Growing Apricot Trees
Growing Apricot Trees Arizona

Vigorous growth is common after planting the apricot tree in the first year. It is recommended to stake the tree for support in the first year of growth. Without the support strong winds can push and warp your tree. This can make your apricot tree grow at an angle instead of straight up. Excessive winds and not stakes can even mean that your tree is uprooted and damaged.

Fertilizing the apricot tree should happen during late winter and early spring. Another round of fertilizer when the tree is producing fruit will help produce more and better fruit. Many gardeners choose fruit tree fertilizer spikes as a way to encourage good growth. These spikes are driven into the soil and slowly release the fertilizer that is specifically engineered to fruit trees.

Pest & Insect Control
Pest & Insect Control Apricot Trees Arizona

Like most fruit trees insects and pests can be a nuisance. Every spring before the buds open up it is a good idea to apply a dormant oil fruit tree spray. To protect your fruit it is very important to use both a spray against plant disease and insecticides. Safety comes first when using these products and proper clothing, eye protection, and face masks should be used. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for using these products for correct mixing. If your apricot tree is suffering from birds pecking your fruit you can get netting that will keep the birds away from the fruit.

Apricot Tree Pruning
Apricot Tree Pruning Arizona

If your goal is to produce fruit from your tree, which would be the point, make sure you don’t over prune. Apricots grow from 2nd year growth and you need to make sure you leave it in the right places. Lightly pruning in the early years will help you get more fruit out of your apricot tree earlier.

Effective pruning helps all plants grow better and produce more fruit. The best time to prune your apricot tree is when it is coldest, during the winter time. You want to make sure you get it done before the new year’s growth starts to pop out.

Apricot Trees For Sale
Apricot Trees For Sale Mesa Gilbert Queen Creek

If you are ready to plant an apricot tree in Arizona A&P Nursery has 4 locations in the East Phoenix Valley to help you get your project started. We have the tools, fertilizers, trees, and even have services to get the tree planted for you. No matter how you want to get started we have the advice and services to fit your needs. Call or stop by one of our 4 locations.

How to Choose Plants at a Nursery

How to Choose Plants at a Nursery Arizona

If you are searching for “How to Choose Plants at a Nursery” you are looking to find information about how to get the biggest bang for your gardening buck.  People who love gardening love browsing through nurseries.  We want to share with you how to get the most for your money and make the best use of your time.

Ways Plants are Packaged at Nurseries

As gardeners browse through the nursery its easy to notice that plants are sold in 3 main forms: containers, bare-root, and balled and burlapped. The way that plants are sold is usually related to their size and type of plant. Plants that are sold with bare roots are typically roses and hedge plants. The plants that are sold in containers are usually smaller plants like small trees, shrubs, and bedding plants. Burlapped root plants are normally the largest plants like trees and large shrubs.

How Nursery Plants are Grown

Bare-root, container, and burlap packaged plants are grown in fields where nurseries can better manage their growth, nourishment, and allow for more aggressive growth.

Small Container Plants

Small Container Plants Nursery ArizonaThese smaller plants start life and grow in containers and continue to grow in progressively larger containers. Some container plants are pretty expensive as there is cost involved in investing in larger and larger containers as the plants grow through the years of maturing.  A good example of this is the dwarf conifer, they are notoriously slow to grow. It takes several years for them to grow big enough to be sold.

Bare-Root Plants

Bare Root Plants Nursery ArizonaDuring the cooler parts of the year nurseries offer bare-root plants, such as roses or lilacs.  This is the time of year where they won’t begin to grow before being planted. Some nurseries keep bare-root plants in suspended animation by keeping them in cold storage.  Being able to purchase your bare-root plants at your local nursery does help avoid fungal diseases that can cripple your plants.

Large Burlapped Plants

Large Burlapped Plant Nursery ArizonaNurseries typically grow shrubs and trees in fields where the plants are able to grow to larger sizes and are easier to maintain.  The stock grown in the field needs to be dug up in winter and early spring while the plants are dormant. After they are dug up the larger plants get the roots wrapped in burlap and twine. The largest trees many times also end up having metal cages used. Large trees that are for sale at nurseries lose a portion of their roots when dug up and package, but this is the only way to get a larger specimen.

Selecting Nursery Plants

Every gardener in Arizona wants to get the most for their money, and the healthiest plants for their landscape. The following will help you get the best stock and best fit for your home and landscape.

Signs To Look For

When you have a nice selection of plants you can learn a lot just by comparing the available plants. For example let’s say you are thinking about buying a river birch and there is a wide selection of plants. All of them are about the same height and are maturing by showing substantial trunks and peeling of the bark.  The price per tree is all about the same and although aren’t cheap they offer immediate landscaping cover from a more mature tree.

Things to keep in mind while you are comparing a tree like this, or any plant, are things like how many trunks or stalks they have, the condition of the leaves, smaller root balls, or roots that are exposed and look distressed or dried out. Some plants like the river birch have a classic look like those with 3 trunks. The leaves shouldn’t be yellowing as this can be an indication that it is nitrogen starved. Smaller root balls typically mean either drought or poor quality soil they were grown in. Look for signs of poorly maintained stock and only buy the best that is on display.

  • Configuration of plant
  • Condition of leaves and roots
  • Size of root balls
  • Overall maturity of the plant

Getting The Best Fit

Landscaping relates to architecture and the trees you plant shouldn’t be too small or too big for your home or business. The scale of you tree should stay to within 1/3rd to 1/4th taller than your home. If it is too much taller it will dwarf your house. Ranch style homes that are one story should consider trees that grow to no more than 15 to 20 feet in height. Two story homes can go bigger and allow for trees that mature to be 22 to 30 feet in height. It is best to plant the biggest trees at the edges of your property to avoid overpowering your home.  This keeps them away from the house, and it is best to think ahead if there are power lines.

Getting Your Plants Home

If you aren’t taking advantage of delivery and planting from your nursery you need to know the best way to transport your plants home. If you are taking the plants home yourself in your vehicle make sure you have a tarp to cover them and some rope to secure them. The wind from driving can seriously damage or even kill your plants so make sure you have them covered, even if it is a short distance home. One example of tree that is especially sensitive to wind and dehydration is the evergreen, it simply cannot tolerate dehydration of the needles.

East Phoenix Valley Nurseries

Residents of Mesa, Queen Creek, Gilbert, and the whole East Phoenix Valley have 4 A&P Nursery locations to choose from for the best plants, knowledgeable staff, and friendly service.  Delivery and planting services are available through a network of trusted landscapers, so you can rest assured that your landscape will look great with your new plants. Call or stop by one of our locations today!

Pallet Gardening in Arizona

Pallet Gardening in Arizona

Lots of Arizona residents love gardening and reusing pallets in creative ways.  Used pallets are inexpensive, easy to find, inexpensive, and make a great place to grow flowers or succulents.  Pallet gardens are especially useful when living in apartments in large cities like Phoenix.  The vertical pallet garden can be stood up against a patio wall and get plenty of sun and fresh air.

Pallet Planter Types

There are two main types of pallet planters, those that are standing on end, and those that are laying down on the ground. The construction of each is quite different, as is the area you will use and display your garden.

Vertical Pallet Planter

Vertical Pallet Planter ArizonaVertical pallet planters are great for smaller patio areas. They provide enough space for the soil to sit securely between the slats and don’t take up much room on your patio. Having a place to grow flowers or decorative plants while living in apartments, makes for a nice touch of life, green, and color when your plants are growing or in bloom.

Horizontal Pallet Planter

Horizontal Pallet Planter ArizonaHorizontal pallet planters are designed to be similar to a raised garden bed. They are covered on the bottom and sides to hold the soil inside and allow plants to grow through the gaps in the wood, or slats. This can be a great option for people who want to be able to move their garden.

How to Build A Vertical Pallet Garden

There are 6 easy steps to building your vertical pallet garden. They are: getting your pallet, collecting gardening supplies, preparing your pallet, stapling on your landscaping fabric, planting your favorite flowers or succulents, and then enjoying your pallet garden.

Get Your Pallet

Getting your pallet can be as easy as placing a call to a couple local warehouses or buying an inexpensive pallet.  Even local nurseries sometimes have used pallets laying around that they need to get rid of. It’s a good idea to pick a pallet that hasn’t been used to transport any chemicals that might hinder the growth of your plants.

Get The Supplies

In addition to the pallet you will need a couple large bags of potting soil, a small roll of landscaping fabric, the flowers or succulents you would like to grow, sandpaper, a staple gun and staples. You can find all of these items at local hardware stores. Some popular plants that people put in their pallet gardens are annual flowers, or succulents.

Prepare The Pallet

While you are sure to have picked a great pallet any nails that are sticking out, rough spots, or areas that might stick someone should be removed and sanded to be safe.  Smooth out any dangerous spots with your sandpaper and use a hammer to remove any nails that might be sticking out.

Attach Your Landscaping Fabric

To hold the dirt in the back and sides you are going to cover them with the landscaping fabric. Flip your pallet so it is facing down and cover the entire back by rolling out your landscaping fabric. If your cover looks thin or your want to have your pallet garden last the longest it can, cover it twice. Make sure to cover the bottom, back, and sides of your pallet with the landscaping fabric. Staple it all into place by setting staples every 2 inches.

Inspect your staples twice and ensure that you have staples everywhere possible to help contain the dirt and make your pallet garden more robust.

Plant Your Flowers & Succulents

Flip your pallet garden over so the cover is facing down and begin by emptying your first bag of potting soil onto the pallet. Push the soil through the gaps in the slats and spread it out with a trowel. Repeat the process with your second bag of potting soil and make sure it is nice and tight. Once your soil is in place you can plant the flowers or succulents you have bought. After everything is planted and secure you and have a friend help you stand the garden up on its end. Make sure the direction you choose to stand it up isn’t open on the edge.

Enjoy Your Pallet Garden

Once the pallet garden is stood up at a safe angle you will be able to enjoy the color and sight of the flowers and succulents you have chose to grow. Having the extra splash of interest and color is fun to show off to friends and guests and simply a welcome touch of life in any residential setting.

Pallet Gardening Nurseries

If you want to build your own pallet garden A&P Nursery has you covered with the best plants, tools, and materials you will need to get started.  We have a great selection of bedding plants, succulents, and annual flowers that will add the color and beauty you are craving. If you have questions about the variety we carry you can call, or to see the full selection of plants, tools, and materials stop by one of our 4 locations.

Spring Vegetable Gardening Guide Made Easy

Spring Vegetable Gardening Guide Made Easy

Are you searching the internet for “Spring Vegetable Gardening Guide Made Easy“? If so we have a great guide for you to get the most of our your garden this year.  If you want to be enjoying your freshly grown produce earlier this year than ever, follow the guidance in this article.

Although various standard variety of garden vegetables are not able to be planted outdoors or from seed unless the soil has warmed up fully, and any threats of frost gone, there are still many crops you can plant in the cool season If you are looking to get a head start on your garden, and getting food to your kitchen earlier than the summer vegetables, then this list is for you.

Gardening Climates

Each area’s weather climate and patterns are different, so it will all be based on your local weather. These cool season vegetables are able to be planted directly in soil either uncovered or covered or under a low tunnel. Alternatively, they can be started in trays or pots and placed in a sunny window.

By planting your vegetables under a low tunnel or roe covers does not just assist with warming the soil faster, but it also helps to protect seedlings from any frosts. Of course, a long period of cold weather or a hard freeze could still kill the plants that use row covers.

Indoor Gardening Head Start
Indoor Gardening Head Start

One method is to start plants in trays or pots that are able to be moved outdoors into the sun on warm days, but brought back in at nighttime. This helps avoid any frost that may occur, if you don’t forget to bring them in. It can allow you to start an early spring garden prior to the soil being ready. Container style gardening also allows you to begin growing your food on balconies, windowsills, or decks, which is great for those without a garden plot outside.

The winter here in east Phoenix has been mild, allowing gardeners to begin planting using row covers in February, but have been able to start spring vegetables directly in soil without cover. Although, this is still a risk as the normal frost date remains a month away. Due to starting rather early baby lettuce greens are ready for harvest sooner, as well the as the spinach, and  kale, radishes and baby chad are sprouting up sooner. These are all things that gardeners should look forward to eating once winter is over, because they won’t have to travel hundreds to thousands of miles to my table.

Early Spring Gardening Plants

The following spring vegetable options can be easily planted from seed. They are all amazing options for starting an early garden, and usually considered foolproof, meaning even beginning gardeners should find them easy to start out with.

  1. Spinach
    Gardening Spinach Spring Arizona

One of my favorite greens is spinach, and it is one option that is quick at sprouting and can be grown in a spring garden. Also, it can be rather frost-resistant, even more so when under cover. Spinach comes in various varieties, most are categorized by being semi-savoy or savoy, which often have a curly or crinkled crispy leaf. However, they can come in a smooth lea that has a softer texture and flatter leaves. I suggest growing several types of spinach to see which will work best for your type of soil and location. Of course, finding out which varieties you prefer the taste of is also important.

I enjoy growing these closely for my early spring greens, then harvesting the leaves while small. This can be as soon as three weeks from time of planting, weather and variety depending. If you have a fall garden, spinach is a great option too. You can cover it with mulch and it’s often ready for early spring harvest.

  1. Chard
    Gardening Chard Spring Arizona

Chard is related to the beet, and another great option for an early spring vegetable. Chard is easily grown from a seed and can be cooked or ate fresh, or even toss it in a smoothie to drink! I usually plant them closer together than suggested on the seed packet, and harvest the crowded chard to use as baby greens when thinning beds. There is a variety of color, size and textures available, but most color is often in the thick stems, with leaves being mainly green. You can add color to your spring salads by growing white, yellow and red chard with the usual green chard, and it will make your garden more colorful too! Depending on the variety, some chard can be harvested for baby greens early as 25 days, and about twice as long to reach full size leaves.

  1. Lettuce
    Gardening Lettuce Spring Arizona

Lettuce is commonly grown into a full size head that many of us are used to seeing in the grocery stores, but I have discovered that rowing lettuce just as a baby green is not just faster, but easier and offers an almost constant supply of salad greens between spring until well into summer. I prefer using a mixed lettuce seed, sometimes known as mesclun mix. Rather than sowing seeds farther apart, which is recommended for full size heads, I sow close together in each row, this yields me a solid row for lettuce leaves which are easy to harvest. I can repeatedly cut these through the season. Lettuce can come in various shapes and colors, not simply the standard green romaine, but green and red leaf lettuce, and butterhead varieties. By growing a mixture of baby greens offers you a larger selection of texture and colors for salads. You can usually harvest baby greens in just a couple weeks, with a rather constant supply when planting successions of seeds each week or so.

  1. Radishes
    Gardening Radishes Spring Arizona

In addition to various types of greens, radishes are among the fastest growing vegetables. With many varieties available, they can be harvest ready in just three weeks. Also, radishes are a great option for interplanting with various spring greens, like lettuce. It can also assist in thinning crops naturally as radishes are harvested.

When it comes to radishes, many only think of the round red or white and pink variety, commonly found in stores. However, they have many colors, sizes and shapes. Radishes can be sweet or spicy, it all depends on the variety. Radishes are easy enough to let the kids help plant them too, the seeds are big enough that small children can easily manage. They are also fast to mature, simple to pull up, and make a great option for impatient gardeners.

  1. Kale
    Gardening Kale Spring Arizona

This is a green that many love hating, but it is a great spring veggie for growing from seeds. Since it can also be harvested as baby greens or full size leaves, it has the option of providing many forms of food from less effort. Kale can be consumed raw in salads, or put in smoothies, even stir-fried or steamed. It makes a good added to greens for any diet.

Kale can be crinkly and dense, like ‘dinosaur’ kale, or it can be ruffle-y and flatter, like red Russian types, but often it is sweeter when used as baby greens in spring gardens. It often produces again in late fall after the first frost. Baby kale can be ready for harvest in just three weeks, and full size leaves coming to maturity between 40 and 60 days, variety depending.

  1. Peas
    Gardening Peas Spring Arizona

Last in our list are peas of various variety, including pod peas and snow peas. These are good options for spring gardens that kids often enjoy. Seeds are large enough that children can easily help in planting, and many kids enjoy looking through the garden to find peas or harvesting and even eating then and there!

It often takes a little longer for snap peas and shelling peas, but kids also tend to love these as well. There are kids out there that won’t eat a cooked pea, but I have seen them eat them fresh from the pods. Peas usually take between 50 and 65 days to reach maturity, variety depending. They may grow as ‘bushes’ or vines, so they are good in a garden or trellising. To achieve the best germination rates, you should soak pea seeds in water overnight prior to planting.

Spring Gardening Nursery Supply

If you live in the Phoenix valley and want to get the best plants, expert advice, and quality fertilizers and tools A&P Nursery has 4 locations in the East Valley of Phoenix. With a wide variety of vegetables we will be able to help you get your garden started for the year. Call or stop by our of the 4 locations below to ask a question or get started.

Growing Tipu Trees In Arizona

Growing Tipu Trees In Arizona

Are you searching the internet for “Growing Tipu Trees In Arizona“? If so A&P Nursery has you covered with this guide to growing the tree in Arizona. We hope this answers any questions you might have, if not we welcome you to stop by or call one of our 4 East Valley locations.

The Tipu Tree, or Tipuana  Tipu is native to South America. This makes it naturally accustomed to hot summers, and its leaves are lush, full and provide great shade. Growing a Tipu Tree in Arizona can provide much needed and welcomed shade for backyards, parks, and landscape projects.

During the summer months the Tipu tree features small apricot-yellow flowers. These flowers give way to a bunch pea-like pods developing that have the “helicopter” like leaves attached. The beautiful flowers give a much welcomed splash of color to Arizona gardens during the summer.

The Tipu can grow as high as 25 feet in just a few years from a sapling bought at a nursery in Arizona. Outside of Arizona, the Tipu tree is known to grow much taller, some reaching as high as 100 feet. These fast growing trees need to be trimmed and pruned frequently during the first couple of years to ensure that a good overall balance and structure is created. The pruning also helps the tree grow better root networks.

Planting The Tipu Tree

The Tipu tree is famous for its amazing growth rate. This is a benefit for people that want to plant a tree for shade in their yard. However care must be taken when choosing a location to plant the Tipu tree. The root systems grow quickly and are strong enough to disturb concrete walkways, foundations, or pools. Its best to plant these trees away from concrete structures. However if a trench is dug about 3 feet deep and filled with roofing shingles, gravel, or other barrier material it will help contain the root structure of the Tipu tree.

If your soil is clay or sandy, like much of the soil is in Arizona, plan to amend these soils with organic matter. Compost can be a great source of nutrients and help with drainage. If your home is a place with high winds you might consider some support stakes to help the tree weather the winds before it has an established root system to help it stand straight.

Watering The Tipu Tree

When the Tipu Tree is first planted you will want to water it deeply. This helps the soil settle around the roots and will help you know if you need to level more soil around the tree.

In the arid desert environment that constitutes most of Arizona the Tipu Tree will need watering about 2-3 times a week. This is best achieved with drip or soaker type watering hoses. The goal is to keep the soil moist, but not wet. Mulch on the ground around the base of the Tipu tree can help retain the water during the hottest parts of the year.

Tipu Tree Pruning

With the speed that Tipu trees grow it is important to prune them to create an upside down vase like shape early, and continue to train the tree to maintain this shape is it reaches its adult growth size. It’s best to prune the Tipu Tree later in the year when it has lost its leaves. This is a time of year where the tree is dormant and the pruning will be accepted best.

Drooping Branches Need Pruning

Drooping branches of the Tipu Tree take away from its beauty. When you see these branches first identify where it should be going, either up, down, or sideways. Track back from the drooping section along the branch until you find a shoot going the direction you want the tree to grow in. This is the spot you want to prune at. Use a pruning saw, chain saw, or pruning lopper to remove the drooping branch close to the branch you want to continue growing.

Safe Pruning Of Larger Branches

While it is relatively easy to trim the thinner branches any branch that is thicker than about an inch and a half should be removed with care. You will want to start your cut about 6 to 12 inches from the trunk of the tree. Cut the bottom side of the branch about 1/3rd of the way through. Then switch to the top side of the branch. Ensure that you are safe and your ladder is set correctly or you have someone holding the ladder to make it steady. Then cut the in the same spot from the top of the branch until it falls. Don’t forget to remove the stump that is coming out of the trunk. You can trim it back to be flush with the trunk. It may swell a bit, but leaving the stump can cause rot and endanger the entire tree.

Tipu Tree Pest Control

While the Tipu Tree does not produce fruit that we can consume there are insects that feast on the pea-like pods. The Tipu Tree is a favorite food for the spittlebug. There are also Tipu psyllid bugs that have started invading Tipu trees in southern California. With this in mind it is a good idea to use pesticides to ensure the health and longevity of your Tipu tree. Talk to your local nursery about what is available to control these pests and make a schedule of when it needs to be done.


Tipu Tree Nurseries In East Valley, Phoenix AZ

A&P Nursery is passionate about all things gardening. We have a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and all types of flowers to make the most of your garden or landscaping project in Arizona. We also have landscaping companies we recommend to get the job done for you. Stop by one of our locations or call us today with any questions you have about Tipu trees, or anything else gardening.


Straw Bale Gardening In Arizona

Straw Bale Gardening In Arizona
Photo by – knitsteel on Flickr

Benefits Of Straw Bale Gardening

Using straw bales to garden in is a way that Arizona gardeners can compensate for a few different problems. When you use straw bales you will be able to have better soil conditions that those found in some areas of the state. Straw beats Bermuda grass (hay) for insect infestation. And best of all you will have higher gardening beds to work in. This means that those sore backs and creaky joints will undergo less strain while gardening. The benefits are clear:

Better Soil Conditions

Superior Growing Matrix

Higher Gardening Beds

Easier On The Body 

How To Get Started

Choosing The Location

The first step in starting a straw bale garden is choosing the right place in your landscape. It needs to be a spot that is easily accessible. This makes getting all of your straw bales, soil, and plants to the location easier. The spot should be sitting on an East to West axis, meaning that it gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. The shape, size, and construction should be planned so it adds visual interest to your landscape. The location should also be one where the garden can benefit from rainwater. You don’t want to set it up under a giant shade tree which will limit sun and rainfall.

Buying The Supplies

You will need 3 main products to get started. Those are the bales of straw, edging material to help the straw maintain its shape, and posts. The posts are driven into the ground to help the edging material hold the garden up. The bales might seem sturdy when first set in place, but once soil, plants, and water are added they can, and should degrade. The edging helps the garden maintain its shape. Here is a short list of things you will need:

  • Straw bales – Make sure you purchase straw, not hay. Straw bales are yellow, hay is generally green. Ask specifically about what kind of straw it is, you want oat or wheat straw. You do NOT want barley straw.
  • Posts – The posts you buy will be part of the structural integrity of the straw bale garden. They will be driven into the ground to provide rigidity to the edging material. Simple metal T posts used in other agricultural applications can be used for the posts. Larger wooden posts may be used, but will require more work to anchor correctly. Either way be aware of if there are pipes or sprinkler systems under the soil.
  • Edging Material – Depending on the look you want for your straw bale garden you will chose from a variety of edging materials. Some people choose wood, some have gardening products that edge the bales and help them keep their shape as they decompose and help plants grow. Some people even choose to use coffee sacks around the bales for a earthy rustic look. Recycled metal roofing is another option

Building The Straw Bale Garden

Getting your straw bale garden built is pretty simple, but it does require a little muscle to set the bales in position. All you need to do is decide where, position the bales, condition them, add some soil and nitrogen, and set your plants in to grow.

Location Prep

Prepping the ground for your bale garden is fairly straight forward. Plan the overall size of area by how much you are wanting to plant, and how much space each plant will take. Make sure you like the spot because it won’t be easy to move them once they are wet, have soil, and already have plants growing in them. Make sure the spot you choose gets about 6 hours of sun a day.

Bale Positioning

For the best results you will want to take care in which end of the bale faces up. Bales are folded and then cut on the 2 edges. Make sure you point the edge that has cut ends of straw facing up. When the cut ends are facing up they allow better water penetration from rainfall or watering.

Bale Conditioning

It’s important to get the bales ready to be used for growing plants. When moisture is introduced your bales will start decomposing immediately. This is a natural process that makes straw bale gardening so successful. Bales must be conditioned before plants are added as the decomposition process produces heat.  Keep track of the internal heat of your bale with a compost or meat thermometer. Once the internal temperature is the same as the exterior or less, you are ready to add plants.

Water & Nitrogen Conditioning

To condition your bale you will want to take about 2 weeks before planting your plants. The first 3 days require through watering of the bales, so they stay damp. Next you will want to add nitrogen in addition to your daily bale watering. Use a liquid fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. This will help speed decomposition in your bales. All you need to do is add a capful to a gallon of water and pour it out on your bale.

Planting In Your Straw Bale

Straw bale gardens are good foundations for growing just about any type of plant. There are a couple exceptions, things like corn or tomatoes can become too tall and heavy for the bale to support. There can be other limitations for veggies that love growing in just soil, things like sweet potatoes.

Otherwise you can just pick the types of plants you love gardening and plant them like you would in a regular garden. Keep the spacing the same as you would anywhere else.

Straw Bale Garden Supplies

A&P Nursery has 4 locations in the East Phoenix Valley to meet all of your gardening needs. We can get you started from the ground up with tools, gloves, and everything a gardener needs. If gardening is already one of your passions we can help you start your straw bale garden with the best plants in the valley and expert knowledge to help you make the most of your efforts. Stop by or call one of our locations to get started.

Growing Apple Trees In Phoenix


Growing apple trees in Phoenix is fun, and it helps take some of the cost out of the grocery bill. There is nothing like fresh fruit from your own yard. With drying, canning, and proper refrigeration these apples can last months or longer. Trees that grow best in Phoenix have low chilling requirements, as we only have about 300-400 hours per year where the temp is between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. To get the most out of the trees it is also smart to plant trees that self pollinate and are early maturing.

Best Type Of Apple Tree
Planting Apple Trees Phoenix AZ

The state of Arizona covers a few different growing zones. Each zone describes the climate and the plants and trees we grow are designated which zones they will grow best in. Phoenix is a “zone 9” area and considered very hot and arid. Because of this reason the apples trees that are recommended for our area are limited to 2 species.

Dorsett Golden Apple Tree

The Dorsett Golden apple tree is one of the two most successful types of apple trees for the hot and dry conditions that prevail for most of the year in Phoenix. The fruit matures quickly and is an early season harvest. The Dorsett Golden is known for its excellent flavor and is self fruiting. The apples tend to have a firm feel and be flavorful. The apples end up a nice yellow color.

Anna Apple Tree

The Anna apple tree is the other great option for this region. It is also an early season harvest, so once it begins to produce fruit, it will do so much earlier than other apple trees. The fruit has an excellent flavor as well as the tree being also self fruiting. These trees do require a little work as they need to be thinned as the fruit grows. These apples can be ate fresh or used for cooking and keep about 2 months in the refrigerator.

How To Plant Apple Trees
Pruning Apple Trees Phoenix AZ

Choosing The Tree At The Nursery

We already know the two best variants of apple trees for the Phoenix area. With that in mind you also will have to choose a rootstock. Apple trees have 2 parts that make up each tree, the scion (top) and the rootstock (foundation). The rootstock determines if the tree will be a full size, or dwarf tree. The scion is what determines which variety of fruit you will have. Dwarf trees are easier to grow, easier to harvest, and take up less room in your landscape. Choose 1 year old, bare root, dormant trees with good root systems. You can expect full size trees to produce fruit in about 5 to 8 years and dwarf trees to only take 3 to 4 years.

Choosing The Location To Plant

Where you plant your tree will affect the quantity and quality of the fruit you grow. The soil needs to be examined for the proper pH balance and the amount of daily sunlight has an effect on your tree. The Maricopa County Extension Program can help test and interpret soil samples to know how much nutrients should be added to your soil to grow your apple tree.

The tree should get sunlight for most of the day. Choose a location in your landscape that is north or east facing to help the tree get as much sunlight as it can per day.  If you have chosen a dwarf tree you might consider growing it against a fence for support as these trees are notorious for uprooting themselves. This can happen because of the phenomenal fruit growth and extra weight. If you can’t plant it against a fence, consider adding a trellis system for support.

Planting The Tree

First off remove all grass and weeds within a 4 foot diameter area where you are planting your apple tree. Dig the hole about two times the size of the root system and about 2 feet deep. Work the edges of the hole to loosen up the soil so the roots will be able to expand more easily. Throw some of the loose soil back in to the hole. Spread out the roots and place the tree into your hole. If the tree has been allowed to sit and dry out some you will want to soak the roots for 24 hours before planting. Resist the urge to fertilize at this time, as the roots can be burned. Apple trees are usually grafted and will have a swelled area where the rootstock attaches to the scion. This area should be about 2 inches above the soil line when your tree is planted.

Getting Your Apples To Grow
Growing Apple Trees

While we know that new dwarf trees will still need 3 to 4 years to start to produce fruit, the car you give the tree from day one and through the life of the tree will affect how well it produces fruit.

Young Tree Pruning

For young apple trees it is best to keep your pruning to the absolute minimum. Restrict your pruning to dead, broken, or misplaced branches. If you want to direct growth without over pruning you can rub off the buds growing in the wrong areas on misplaced branches. You can also use some string and stakes to bend stems down. This helps slow growth and promotes other branches to produce fruit.

Mature Tree Pruning

A tree is considered mature when it has filled in and is producing apples. Now it does require more through and regular pruning. Clearly the time to prune your apple tree is when it is dormant during the colder months. The first task is to remove overly vigorous stems that are growing upright. These are usually found in the top of the tree. Clear off weak twigs and shorten up the stems that are too droopy when there is fruit on them.

After a decade of growth on your apple tree you will find fruiting spurs. These are stubby branches that grow only about a half an inch per year. These branches can become decrepit and tend to be overcrowded. Remove a portion of them, and consider shortening others. If an entire limb has become decrepit considering shortening it up to encourage the growth of a new fruiting limb.

Thin Out For Quality

As your tree begins to produce fruit you will want to limit the overall quantity of apples growing on the tree. This should be done not only to prevent heavy crops from breaking your limbs, but also helps ensure larger, and better tasting apples. To do this, remove the damaged and smaller fruits shortly after the fruit-set. A good rule is having 4 inches of space between the apples you keep.

Avoiding Diseases & Pests

Apple trees are prone to pests, and all trees are prone to various tree diseases.

Controlling Larger Pests – The pests that can ruin or eat your fruit are mammals and insects. To control the rabbits, mice, deer or other hungry critters in your area you can use wire-mesh cylinders around the tree’s base to protect it.

Controlling Insect Pests – Wire-mesh isn’t going to stop beetles, apple maggots, or other insects from getting into your tree and ruining your crop. Insects can be controlled by applying a mixture of water, vinegar, and sugar and hanging the mixture in a jug with a wide mouthed container. For beetles you can get some Tangle Traps that are softball sized balls that attract and trap the beetles.

Benefits Of Eating Apples

We have all heard the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but how much truth is there to it? Science has helped us understand better the claim, and there are some great benefits from eating apples. Here are the top reasons eating apples helps your health.

Help Fight Colds

While oranges might hold the title on vitamin C, adding apples does nothing but give you another way to get your best doses of this cold fighting vitamin. They pack over 8 milligrams for every medium sized apple you eat. That means roughly 14% of your recommended daily vitamin C requirement.

Helps Lower Cholesterol

There is about 4 grams of fiber in a medium size apple. A portion of that fiber is in the form of soluble fiber called pectin. Pectin has been linked to helping fight bad cholesterol, or LDL levels. This is due to the fact that pectin helps by blocking the absorption of cholesterol rather than storing it in your body.

Apples Fill You Up

There are a lot of things we eat that leave us looking for something more. Apples are full of fiber, about 4 to 5 grams of fiber per apple. They keep you full longer because our bodies take more time to digest complex fibers. Things like refined grains or sugars are processed much more quickly and leave us hungry more often, and a lot sooner.

East Phoenix Valley Nursery

If you are looking for your apple tree and need a nursery to help you get started A&P Nursery has 4 locations in the East Phoenix valley to help you out. Stop by and get all of the info you need to choose the right tree, get the tools you need, and the best advice about how to get the most out of your apple tree in the Phoenix area.

Growing A Peach Tree in Arizona

Growing A Peach Tree in Arizona

Desert Gold peach trees bear a large amount of medium sized blushing yellow peaches. They produce fruit from about May until September, depending on weather. These trees can grow as high as 30 feet tall, and an equal width. These trees need full sun, so choosing a sunny location to plant them is key. We have listed the steps below to help you plant your Peach tree in Arizona. One of the best options for peach trees for our climate is the Desert Gold Peach Tree.

Testing The Soil

Different kinds of plants do better in different types of soil. The pH level of soil is a measure of the acidity and alkalinity of the soil. In the case of the Desert Gold Peach tree you will want soil that is around 6.5 pH. Testing the soil before you run to your local nursery and simply start digging a hole is important to give your tree the best conditions to grow in. If your soil pH is too high you can add some aluminum sulfate or sulfur which will lower the pH.  If the pH is too low you can add lime to the soil to bring it back up. Depending on your soil tests you will know about how much to add based on the guides on the bag of lime or aluminum sulfate. Simply lay the minerals on the soil and till the ground into the top few inches of the soil.

Digging The Hole

While it may seem straight forward to dig the hole the depth and width of the root ball, you need to make sure that the hole is about 4 times as wide as the balled up root system. After you set the tree in the hole you will want to spread the roots out. Put about half the soil back in on top of the roots and water the tree until the soil is soaked. Place the remaining soil back in the hole and give it another good long soak. This will help settle the soil around the roots and the bulb of the tree. Due to the size these trees can achieve you will want to make sure you space these trees at least 20 feet from other trees and structures.

Fundamental Fertilization

About 6 weeks after planting your tree you will want to use about a half a pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer. Start at about 20 inches from the trunk of your tree and lay the fertilizer on top of the soil, then work outward and cover the area. Do the same in the spring and early summer to give the ground what it needs for your peach tree. After the third year you should add 1 pound of nitrogen every year before the new growth appears.

Watering The Peach Tree

Watering should happen every few days for about 20 minutes during the warmer months of the year. During the cold months watering can be cut down to every couple of weeks. Cooler weather and good rainfall cut down on the need for watering. Extreme summer heat in Phoenix needs to be offset with more frequent watering and should be done at least twice a week.

Peach Trees For Sale In The East Phoenix Valley

If you are considering planting a peach tree or any kind of fruit tree and want the best guidance in choosing the tree the experts at A&P Nursery have the knowledge to get you under way. In addition to selling the trees and plants there are services available for planting your selections in your landscape for you and ongoing landscaping services to simply your life.  Call or visit one of the 4 locations in the East Valley.

What Is Urban Farming?

What Is Urban Farming? Arizona

Urban farming is a large movement to integrate the raising of crops and animals into our urban city settings. This can happen directly in these areas, or nearby at the edges of our cities. Urban farming is also a specific organization that is dedicated to encouraging people to get involved in urban environments to help create more food.

At nearly every food conference these days you will find people who are speaking out about converting unused space into productive agricultural areas that can help provide more food and nutritional education for people living in the cities. There are literally thousands of sites that are dedicated to the idea of urban agriculture. Gardeners aren’t the only people interested in this movement, city planners, environmentalists, community groups, and individuals are focuses on the initiative.

How Does It Help?

We have all heard the stories about how eating healthy costs more than running out for fast food.  This makes getting the right amount of fresh vegetables and fruits costly and impossible for some people. Urban agriculture is different from commercial agriculture in the spirit of its purpose. As a society who is largely made up of capitalism ventures are undertaken many times expressly for gain and profit.

Urban agriculture differs drastically in this aspect. While the tasks, produce, and other products are similar to what is produced by commercial agriculture, urban farming focuses on the production to support our own families and share with those in need.

How To Get Started

One of the greatest things about urban agriculture is that you don’t have to be a corporation to get started. It can be as simple as a group of friends, a community, or even a neighborhood group can get a urban farm started and care for it.

Picking A Site

If there is unused land or under used land in your area, petitions can be made to local government. The areas that are popular for starting urban agriculture can be places where housing has been demolished, retail areas that are no longer in use, landfills, or even rooftops. Some areas are even sectioning of some of their park areas for the growing of food for the community to use instead of relying entirely on commercial growers.

Choosing What To Do With The Crops

If it is a individual or group of friends it is common for the fruits of these labors to be consumed directly by the urban farmers. If the project is big enough and zoning allows the produce can be sold at local farmers markets or local restaurants. With the money that is made improvements can be made to the farm, better tools can be purchased, or the funds can be donated to charities in your local area. Many urban farming projects choose to donate some or all of their work to local soup kitchens, shelters, or church organizations that will use the food for the support of the needy.

Deciding On What To Grow

This is where democracy is preferable. Depending on how big and who is involved a list of common vegetables and fruits that grow well in your area should be discussed. Based on interest and nutritional value area should be sectioned off to grow the proportionate amount of the most important items.

If zoning allows urban farmers can also choose to discuss which types of animals will be raised as part of the project. Many people like having chickens to supplement their need for eggs. Not only are they a good source of protein but if done right many eggs can be produced with a modest amount of laying hens.

Urban Farming Supply Nurseries

A&P Nursery has all the tools, knowledge, seeds, and plants your urban farming project might need. We can help you get your project started with expert advice and friendly service. Stop by one of our 4 locations in the east valley or give us a call to get started.

Arizona Gardening Calendar


National gardening calendars are general calendars which cover the average climates in the United States. In Phoenix we have more heat, and longer growing seasons so these calendars are not adequate to help Southern Arizona Gardeners. We will start with January and work through each month to show how local gardeners can get the most out of their gardens.

January Gardening

Phoenix winters are short and usually only last for the month of January. There are various activities that should be done in January depending on your garden and your landscape. It is a good time to get your bulbs in the ground, take care of spraying dormant shrubs, and prune your deciduous fruit trees and rosebushes. It’s also time to prune other bushes and trees, and is your last opportunity to get your bare root shrubs or trees in the ground. It is also the time of year where frost is most common, so keeping an eye on weather reports and taking steps to protect plants is to your advantage.

January Planting

January is a good time to get your carrots, cabbage, lettuce, radishes and potatoes in the ground. In addition any bare root plants like strawberries or asparagus should be planted in January.

It is also time to get a lot of your flowers in the ground. Things like your Daises, Poppies, Petunias, Snapdragons, Sweet peas should go in the ground in January in the Phoenix area.

February Gardening

While frost is still a concern till about mid February you want to get your plants in the ground as soon as it is reasonably safe. The spring growing cycle is short and needs to have time to mature before the punishing heats of summer. It’s critical to give your trees and plants time to become established before the daytime temperatures go above, and stay above 100 degrees for weeks on end.

It is also the time to finish any pruning you need to do on your deciduous trees and rose bushes. It is a good time to take steps to control weeds with herbicides that control the growth of weeds before they even begin to develop.

February Planting

This is the month to do your spring planting in southern Arizona. Frosts usually end around the 15th of February and it is a good time to get your frost sensitive plants into the ground to get the most out of the initial growing season. It is still possible to drop your annuals and perennials in the ground to get that beautiful floral effect in your Arizona garden. This is also the time of year to start fertilizing your trees and plants, and start keeping track of what is getting which fertilizer, when, and how much.

Veggies to get in the ground in February include beets, beans, carrots, corn, eggplant, lettuce, peppers, summer squash and tomatoes. You still have time to get your radishes, potatoes in the ground. This is also the time to get your watermelon and cantaloupe melons in the ground.

March Gardening

March is a good time to start ensuring your watering system is ready for summer. It is still cool enough to do some work if you need to work on some pipes, sprinkler heads, or drip lines. It is time to test your timers and make sure that everything is working so you are not panicking and having to use hose watering during the hotter part of the year. In addition it is important to control any weeds that might have been missed by your February herbicide treatments, get them while they are small. March overlaps the spring and summer planting season.

March Planting

Many flowers call to be planted in March that includes Marigolds, Petunias, Sunflowers and more.

March is still a good month to get your vegetable garden going and includes all of the same veggies that were suggested in the February. In addition March is a good time to plant winter squash and beets.


Stay tuned for more information on monthly gardening projects and what to plant.